Holiday Bowl officials might make a tentative selection between USC and Oregon as soon as today, said John Reid, executive director of the Dec. 30 game in San Diego.
Any decision, however, would be contingent on UCLA and Arizona reaching Bowl Championship Series games--UCLA going to the Fiesta and Arizona to the Rose, for instance. Otherwise, Arizona goes to the Holiday.
Oregon had been the front-runner to represent the Pacific 10 in San Diego, but USC’s victory over Notre Dame Saturday put the Trojans in contention.
“It certainly makes USC loom much larger in our picture, no question,” Reid said. “We’re going to have a tough call between USC and Oregon.”
The Holiday hopes to pit No. 13 Nebraska (9-3) against either No. 21 Oregon (8-3) or unranked USC (8-4), which finished just out of the Top 25 after beating the ninth-ranked Irish, who were without starting quarterback Jarious Jackson.
“The pros are that Oregon probably has the best travel reputation of any school in the Pac-10 and really no one has exceeded its track record,” Reid said. “They have a wide-open offense quarterbacked by a local kid [Akili Smith]. We’ve never had Oregon, and they’re nationally ranked.
“USC is a huge television attraction, the nation’s second-largest television market, and they’d bring a lot of fans here by virtue of their proximity.”
Oregon beat USC, 17-13, this season, but lost its final game to rival Oregon State, while the Trojans finished with a victory.
"[The head-to-head game] is a factor, but it might not be an overriding factor,” Reid said. “They’re both lobbying hard, I can tell you that.”
USC safety Rashard Cook, tailback Chad Morton and Coach Paul Hackett were among those lobbying after the game.
“I’m kind of biased. I’m from San Diego,” Cook said.
“There’s been some talk about El Paso. I definitely don’t . . . I mean, I’d love to go to San Diego,” Morton said.
Added Hackett: “We’d love to go to the Holiday Bowl.”
Though everything must wait for UCLA’s game against Miami Saturday and the final BCS poll, Reid said he’ll urge his committee to make a tentative choice today, so efforts to promote the game can begin.
If USC doesn’t succeed in its Holiday bid, the Trojans are likely headed to the Sun Bowl Dec. 31 in El Paso, possibly against No. 25 Virginia Tech (8-3), though there’s an outside chance USC could play in one of the two Christmas Day games in Hawaii if UCLA ends up in the Rose.